It's not that I dislike American riders ...

Last weekend, Suzuki rider Loris Capirossi managed to break his right (read: throttle) hand. Apparently he's not going to be able to make it back onto the bike in competitive form for the upcoming race in Donnington, and is instead aiming for the following race, Assen. As a replacement for Capirex, the Suzuki GP team is calling up American Ben Spies from AMA Superbike.

Spies (23 years old, from Longview, TX.) is the reigning AMA Superbike champion for Yoshimura Suzuki, and was previously aiming at a GP debut at Laguna Seca's USGP. Fortunately for him, Loris fell off. He'll be joining Aussie Chris Vermeulen on the Rizla Suzuki.

I think this Capirossi quote says it best: "...he shouldn’t get too comfortable on my bike because I want it back soon!" I don't think Loris has too much to worry about, given the state of American riders in this year's world championship so far (Edwards 5th, 73pts out; Hayden 9th, 94pts out; Hopkins 12th, 110pts out).

New website helps you not get ripped off

There's a new site within the series of tubes that's aimed towards helping people not get ripped off by their mechanic. RepairPal allows you to enter the year, make and model of your car, and then select what repair you need to have done (within certain limits). It will then give you a price range, which is based on a number of variables (including allegedly "top secret" price quote data used by shops).

A couple of early limitations I found with the site were a lack of data for older vehicles (neither my 1981 RX-7, nor my 1981 Oldsmobile 98 Regency were listed in the site's database), and a lack of data for all potentially necessary repairs (e.g. there was no data for the replacement of a purge control solenoid for a 2005 Mazda 3, a repair that's quite common).

The benefits to the site more than likely outweigh the above-noted detriments, however. You're able to save data about the repairs you've had done to your car, and export the data as widgets that can be embedded into Craigslist or eBay postings. Handy stuff! As more users enter real-world data, the site will continue to get better as well. Which is why it's important for the blogosphere to make consumers aware of such a site, so it gets the use it deserves!



Canada finally gets iPhone (officially)

WWDC 2008 is going on right now, and Apple officially announced that Rogers and Fido would both be carrying the new 3G iPhone, starting July 11. Of course, no prices (for phone or data plans) have yet been released, but those will trickle down in the near future.

What does this mean for Canada? Nothing, unless you're a neophyte. You see, the digerati in Canada have been rocking out iPhones on Rogers & Fido networks since the initial AT&T release in the USA. Rather, since the first jailbreaking of the AT&T iPhones. It's become such a simple process to jailbreak the phone (45 seconds of your time and a finger are the only things required), that there was no reason to wait for Rogers to start scamming you on data plans. Even though the iPhone SDK is well on its way to producing top-quality, purchaseable apps for the iPhone, I'd still unlock my gadget as soon as I got it home from the Rogers store for the apps that can only be had via Installer.

The main benefit to this, if you ask me, is that the cost of 1st generation iPhones is going to plummet as early adopters hop aboard the 3G train. So while you're rocking out your $100/month data plan, I'll buy your old phone for $100 and just stick to using near ubiquitous WiFi signals for my intertube needs.

Stupid idea #8437

Perhaps I'm being judgmental in calling this a "stupid idea". Perhaps there's a whole legion of sportbike-riding squids who would love to commute daily on their ZX10R's, but refuse to get the tops of their Shoeis wet. Enter: Rocketshields!

Yes, this company has managed to create a product that I didn't even realize was necessary. The Rocketshield creates a "canopy" for your sportbike, and mounts onto stock location (as you can see in the photo). Not only do you look like a giant tool, you also manage to lose the aerodynamic profile that the engineers at Kawasaki worked so hard to gain. And your legs are still open to the weather. As are your hands.

I'm anything but a fair-weather rider: I'll ride in monsoons, if need be (and need usually be, since I live in Vancouver). To maintain my sanity and comfort, I have good rain gear: waterproof pants, a GoreTex overcoat, GoreTex riding boots. It can be cold and miserable, but you usually don't get wet until a semi passes you and gives you some solid lateral spray down your ankles. Never ever ever have I wished there to be a thin canopy over my helmet (which usually does a pretty decent job of keeping my head dry).

As you can tell, I don't get it. Please let me know if you can see the market for this product. Enlighten me, faithful readers!

[Rocket shields via Kneeslider via Hell for leather via Gizmodo]

CTV now owns HNiC theme song

So I've refused to comment on the Hockey Night in Canada theme song saga, because it's been a bit of a non-issue for me. I usually don't manage to turn the hockey game on until halfway through the 1st period (at best), so whether or not they play the music is a bit of a moot point for me. I do value tradition, and all that jazz, but at some point you just have to take things for what they are. It's a song ... a jingle. I miss the "2 Scoops of Raisins" jingle (with Sturdy Dan McGee), but I'm not petitioning my MP for Kellogg's to bring it back (again).

HOWEVER: I was as surprised as anybody when I read this afternoon that CTV Globemedia has bought (in perpetuity) the rights to the HNiC theme (which is hereby known as "The Hockey Theme") for the low low price of an undisclosed amount (though rumours have it between $2.5 and $3million). CBC was paying the composer, Delores Claman $500 per playing, or $1000 per hockey game (twice per show). CTV Globemedia will use the song on hockey games aired on TSN/RDS and during hockey coverage of the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics.

At $1000 per game, and 2 games per week (on average), with a season lasting from September 29 until June 4 (approximately 37 weeks), we can say that a very very rough average estimate of costs for CBC to use "The Hockey Theme" for the 2007-08 season would be $2000 x 37, or $74,000. Granted, there were playoff games thrown in there as well, so we'll top it off at $100,000 to include those, as well as promotional use of the song. Assuming CTV paid the low estimate of $2.5 million, they'll have to use the song for 25 years to get the same deal CBC had. Again, the math is all very rough and round, but not that far off of reality.

The question becomes: what's the intangible value of the song? Clearly CTV saw it as a chance to steal the hearts of hockey fans away from the public broadcaster, and in terms of big media, $2.5 million isn't a lot of money. If CBC paid the same amount for the same rights, however, would the public be happy with $2,500,000 of their tax dollars going towards a jingle? I suppose we'll never know ...

Ouch: that's gotta hurt

Pedrosa and Hayden did some post-Catalunya testing, again trying to figure out whether to use spring or pneumatic valves on the RC212V in upcoming races. I can't figure out why it's taking Honda so long to get this issue sorted, but I'm sure there's more to it than meets the layman's eye.

So Pedrosa does some laps on the spring-valved bike (best lap time 1:43:48), and then breaks out the pneumatic-valved version. He managed a 1:43:81 before some electrical issues forced him back onto the spring machine. He then managed to high-side on the turn 2 chicane, sending him to the hospital with a bruised back. Nothing too serious, but he does require 48 hours of rest and some anti-inflammatory meds. It'll be interesting to see if this affects his racing at Donnington in a couple of weeks. And a better question: will he blame any poor results on the crash?

Hayden continued testing, and managed a 1:42:721 lap time with the pneumatic valves. A respectable time for the once-competent Kentucky Kid.

Rossi retains world championship lead

While I was in the middle of the North Okanagan house-hunting, I managed to miss Spain's MotoGP race. "Gran Premi Cinzana de Catalunya" was held on Sunday, with Pedrosa being the home-town favourite to win. Rossi had a pretty shite qualifying session, and started from 9th position, which greatly reduced his chances of 3 victories in a row.

Again, I didn't actually see the race myself (and haven't gotten around to downloading it yet, though I might this evening), so all I can report is hear-say. Rossi apparently had a fantastic session, and climbed up to a solid 2nd place finish, which allowed him to regain the lead in World Championship points over Pedrosa (Rossi 142, Pedrosa 135). Pedrosa, as mentioned racing at his "home" track, took the victory by a solid 2.8 seconds over Rossi, and 3.3 seconds over 3rd place Casey Stoner (4th in World Championship, 92 points).

Nicky Hayden continued to screw the pooch (8th position, 22.28 seconds back of Pedrosa; 9th in World Championship, 48 points), and you have to think he can no longer blame the valves on the RC212V, after Pedrosa managed such a convincing victory. Randy De Puniet, Alex De Angelis and Loris Capirossi all failed to finish the race.

Expect an update to this post if/when I get around to actually watching the race.

Next up: Donington Park on June 22nd.


MAF decides to get good for game 5

Alright, I admit it: I was wrong. I never thought Mark Andre Fleury could be a solid, play-off caliber goalie. At least not this season: he's still too young and inexperienced, in my humblest of opinions. Last night, however, he stood on his head and kept the Penguins' playoff hopes alive, while Malkin continued to cough up the puck in the neutral zone.

I'm not going to drone on about how the 3-OT game was a thriller, and how it was the highest rated Game 5 since 2002 (there's a solid statistic that doesn't really mean anything). I'll give it you straight here in the pages of the Vavenby Daily News. There's no way Pittsburgh deserved to win that game. Sure, they took an early 2 goal lead, but against a team like the Wings, that's not going to be enough. You need to play with intensity and heart for the full 60 (or 109:57) minutes.

Pittsburgh was out-shot in every one of the 6 periods played, except for OT #2, in which they managed 1 more shot than Detroit. Compare this to OT #1, in which the Wings outshot the Pens 13-2. Overall shot total was 58-32 in favor of the boys from the Motor City.

All this being said, I feel that Pittsburgh can win the next game and force a game 7. They're so good at home, and coming of the high of this win, I expect big things. The key factors are for MAF to continue to play well, and for Malkin to pull his head out of his ass and start playing like the superstar he's supposed to be.

Final score: Pittsburgh 4, Detroit 3
3 Stars: #1 - MAF (55 saves);
#2 - Petr Sykora (GWG @ 09:57 of 3rd OT; 2PIM)
#3 - Hank Zetterberg (2 assists; 2PIM)

Vale unbeatable in Mugello

Unfortunately, I didn't actually get a chance to watch the MotoGP race on Sunday. I had other things going on in my life, and actually knew the outcome prior to its airing on Speed thanks to the myriad motorcycle blogs that filter through my RSS reader. That being said, the first thing I did when I got home was hopped onto the series of tubes and downloaded a copy of the race from EuroSport. And boy am I glad I did!

For those of you who didn't get a chance to watch the race, it's important to note how amazing Valentino Rossi is at this track. Fully and totally unbeatable. And now that he's back to his old form (and starting from the pole position), I was pretty sure he was going to waltz away with the points. Not quite the case, as he fell behind and had to work his way back up from 3rd position, but after gaining the lead, he continued to build upon it right through to the finish (his 7th consecutive GP win at this circuit). The final gap between Rossi and 2nd place finisher Casey Stoner was a full 2.2 seconds. A further 2.6 seconds separated Stoner from Pedrosa, in 3rd. The Kentucky Kid, Nicky Hayden finished a disappointing (for him, not for me) 13th, 50.440 seconds (yes, almost a full minute) behind Rossi.

The race also happened to be filled with crashes and miscalculations, with Lorenzo & Hopkins both bowing out in the 17th lap, and De Puniet & Melandri leaving in the 18th lap.

Rossi now leads the World Championship standings by 12 points over Pedrosa, and 28 points over #3 Jorge Lorenzo. Next race is this weekend (June 8) in Spain.